Marc Quinn: History & Chaos

Through August 16, 2019

Pre History Painting (Chaos) Milky Way (23 August 2017) RBGOYG.jpg

Marc Quinn’s “Chaos” paintings represent an evolution of his “History” paintings, capturing how the news cycle is populating our minds. In the “Chaos” works, Quinn uses thick impasto and gestural strokes to aggressively cover - sometimes almost completely - hyperrealist images of “contemporary history,” painstakingly rendered in oil paint from news photographs. The gestalt of this process is a compelling visual representation of the chaos of the 24-hour news cycle and how it affects us mentally and emotionally. We absorb news from across the globe, internalizing it and carrying it with us - pervasive information overload. Beyond crafting a physical manifestation of these abstract concepts, Quinn also literally covers up the violent images present in much of his photographic source material with paint, erasing - and shielding the viewer from - these disturbing images.

About Marc Quinn

Marc Quinn (British, born 1964) is a leading contemporary artist. He first appeared on the art scene in a big way in the early 1990s, when he and several peers redefined what it was to make and experience contemporary art. Marc Quinn makes art about what it is to be a person living in the world – whether it concerns Man’s relationship with nature and how that is mediated by human desire; or what identity and beauty mean and why people are compelled to transform theirs; or representing current, social history in his work. His work also connects frequently and meaningfully with art history, from Modern masters right back to antiquity.

Quinn came to prominence in 1991 with his sculpture Self (1991), a cast of the artist’s head, made entirely of his blood, which is frozen and kept at sub-zero temperatures by its own refrigerated display unit. It is the purest form of self-portrait (being of the artist - both in appearance and material) but also a comment on Man’s need for infrastructure, as the sculpture is kept ‘alive’ only by an electricity supply. This symbolism can be substituted for other forms of dependence, not least addiction - something the artist experienced early in his career.

Quinn has recently announced a major public artwork in aid of refugees, which is garnering international attention. Opening in October 2019 on the steps of the New York Public Library, Our Blood is a not-for-profit artwork created from blood donated by more than 5,000 people – with half of these volunteers being refugees. Our Blood is made in collaboration with refugees and to help refugees: it is created to heighten awareness of the global refugee crisis and to raise millions of dollars for those whose lives are affected by it.

“These images I hope crystallize something into a moment or an image that when you freeze it the right way, you then have an image that unpacks its trick. Underneath, there is a news image but then the paint is so thick that it becomes this kind of madness.”
— Marc Quinn on the "chaos" paintings